The Deadliest Job in America is, claimed to be crab fishing on the Bering Sea. A good season can make one man a year’s salary in just a few days! With forty-foot waves, 700 pound crab pots, freezing temperatures and your mortality staring you in the face…this job ranks as one of the deadliest.
Monte made his way north just two years after his older brother Keith, getting a crash course in crab fishing off remote St. Paul Island in the dead of winter. Monte's introduction to the Bering Sea took place on the deck of the crabber Juno, a partner vessel to the Alaska Trader that Keith was working on. Monte's first year in Alaska was a marathon that lasted 10 months before he took his first extended shore leave. From Monte's very first day in Alaska, his career has consisted of one adventure after another.
In 1988, he joined Keith aboard the Wizard as a full-share deck hand. A few years later, when Keith took over in the wheelhouse, Monte became deck boss. Monte earned his Coast Guard mate's license in 1992 and upgraded to a master's in 1995. By that time, Keith and Monte began operating the Wizard full time together as captain and relief captain/mate.
For a time, Monte took command of a succession of his own crab boats, giving him the opportunity to gain captain's experience and to operate his boats in partnership with Keith aboard the Wizard.
Monte's nickname may be "Mouse," but he's tough as nails. Last year, after Monte had two ribs broken during the famous "Wizard Wave," he was back on board in only two weeks. Competent at the helm, he hit pay dirt last season on the notoriously difficult Baradai crab grounds while Keith was off.
Among his many maritime adventures, Monte took the helm of Keith's boat, the Sirene, to support an oil spill clean-up operation off the coast of Unalaska Island in the western Aleutians, not far from Dutch Harbor. A large cargo freighter had run aground in December 2004, spilling more than 300,000 gallons of fuel oil and killing thousands of seabirds and otters.
Monte Colburn Photos
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